Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
‘Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.’
– Six of Crows
Upon starting Six of Crows, I was sceptical about whether I would enjoy this book. Sure, it has incredibly good reviews and is well regarded within the reading community, but so are a lot of books that I don’t like. I’ve never read any other Grishaverse books before, and really had no concept about “Grisha” before I picked it up. However, I’m pleased to say that my scepticism was completely misplaced and Six of Crows now has a place amongst my favourite books.
The characters in Six of Crows are a breath of fresh air. Bardugo effortlessly incorporates both physical disabilities and mental ill-health into her characters, without allowing these to define them. Take Kaz, for example. He is a cripple who walks with a cane and suffers PTSD, but he is defined by his quick thinking and intelligence. Jesper appears to have ADHD, but is more recognised by his shooting ability. It is the realness with which she writes these disorders which shows the research she has done to develop her characters. Bardugo not only writes each character with realistic disorders, but with different beliefs, backstories, religions, skin colour, sexual orientation, and impairments with an ease that other writers often struggle with. It was amazing to read a book with such diversity within a genre which often possesses such monotony in characters.
The relationships in Six of Crows are different to most YA literature, too. I usually don’t get excited over books with a romantic side-story, as they normally feel ill-paced, boring, and unrealistic. And unlike a lot of YA novels, this book has no love triangles! The love triangle, to me, is one of the lasiest tropes (I won’t go into this now, but I loathe them). The relationships in Six of Crows feel real and relevant, not forced and unlikely. Bardugo lets them develop at their own pace, without pushing for the kiss or touch which normally feels far too soon, or completely out of the blue, in other books. It’s this reality that makes me actually support the relationships in Six of Crows.
The Grishaverse is unlike anything I’ve ever discovered. The whole world is so beautifully laid out: each land has their own belief system, people, language, and heritage, which are similar to (yet not a carbon copy of) those in European countries. There are nods to Nordic countries in Fjerda, Romania in Ravka, and the Netherlands in Kerch. To create an entire world with different peoples is a huge effort, and not one that Bardugo has spared. I was simply astounded by the details she has created for the Grisha world.
I have grown accustomed to some lazy writing within the YA genre, but Six of Crows does not follow this trend. The language Bardugo uses is so beautifully crafted, each sentence so well thought out, every word having a place and purpose. Sometimes a book seems to have to compromise between beautiful language and adventure, but Six of Crows readily delivers both. The story is so novel and exciting, and Bardugo has obviously researched what she is writing, another sign of a brilliant author. Although Bardugo uses magic in her books to do the impossible, it is rarely used where a feat cannot be accomplished by non-magical means. This makes the book feel more real than other books that use magic to explain every little feat.
It’s obvious to see when a work has been carefully and thoughtfully curated. Bardugo has spent a lot of time thinking and revising Six of Crows, and it shows. There is no doubt that this book deserves the praise that it has been garnering: it is not rushed, forced, or full of tropes and clichés. It really is a breath of fresh air.